It’s fall, y’all. And that means that in addition to doing a stock check on your knitwear and jackets, it’s time to get serious about footwear. Yes, you can still wear your favorite white sneakers deep into the season, but it’s also a good idea to have shoes that can handle inclement weather.
The good news is that the best shoes for conquering fall just so happen to be the most stylish, and those are lug sole shoes. Previously, lug soles were reserved for your hardiest boots, but these days, designers have been slapping these chunky outsoles on everything from loafers to Oxfords. The popularity of lug soles is part of the trend toward bigger, looser fits, whether that’s pleated pants or baggy jeans. A hardy lug sole complements a wide-fit pant better than a sleek, slim shoe can.
So what is a lug sole shoe, anyway? Lug soles are often made from rubber or synthetic EVA material, and they’re distinguished by their thickness and the deep grooves that are visible from the sides of the shoes. Lug soles give any shoes, even loafers, a hardy, utilitarian look. Lug soles are practical, too. The thick tread of these shoes creates better traction on tough terrain and slip resistance on wet streets.
One brand to know is Vibram, a brand that specializes in outsoles. The brand’s Commando lug sole is featured on more than one shoe on this list, and the yellow Vibram logo has come to be seen as a marker of durability and reliability. Vibram’s founder is also credited with inventing the lug sole shoe, and he was reportedly inspired by the tread on tractors and tanks.
Another feature found on some lug sole shoes is a storm welt, which is a type of stitching that adds water resistance and allows the shoes to be resoled by a cobbler once they wear down. We’ve rounded up the best lug-sole boots and shoes, ranging from stylish loafers to rugged hikers.
1. G.H. Bass Layton Lug Sole Loafer
Old-school loafer-maker GH Bass has been pushing lug soles hard, and it’s not hard to see why. There’s something distinctly stylish about the unconventional mash-up of a classy loafer with a sturdy lug sole. The brand’s Layton style is a kiltie loafer, meaning it has a leather fringe on the upper that somewhat resembles a kilt. It’s also a tassel loafer, so named for the decorative pom poms. Normally, a kiltie tassel loafer might look kind of haughty, but the lug sole brings things down to earth by adding durability and ruggedness.
2. Timberland Handsewn Boat Shoe
BEST BOAT SHOE
Boat shoes might have lost their mojo once the mid-2010s prep trend died down, but these lug-sole shoes from Timberland aren’t your typical deck shoes. They have an extra thick lug sole and two-tone leather finish that’ll look great with everything from shorts to selvedge denim.
3. Eddie Bauer K-6 Boot
Eddie Bauer’s K-6 boots are a great dupe for Danners at a much more attainable price, and they’re packed with hard-wearing features like a waterproof upper and a Vibram lug sole. The EVA midsole and polyurethane footbed add cushioning and comfort. Plus, they’re made by the brand that practically invented outdoor clothing.
4. Allen Edmonds Park Avenue Oxford
BEST DRESS SHOE
These aren’t your grandfather’s Allen Edmonds. The brand may be known for traditional dress shoes, but they’ve swapped the regular leather soles on these dress shoes for a sturdy lug sole. They might be out of place in the most formal offices, but they’ll look great everywhere else.
5. Thursday Boot Company Renegade
Thursday’s Renegade shoes have derby-style lacing and a thick lug sole, so they’re a far cry from the formality of a traditional Oxford. You would hope so, given the style’s name. The soles are storm welted for protection from the elements, while the cork insoles wear in to the shape of your foot for customized comfort.
6. Blundstone Classic 550 Chelsea Boot
Blundstone has appreciated the value of a good lug sole for decades, and that’s because the brand has been making shoes for people who actually need traction and support. But the brand’s hardy Chelsea boots are now a bona fide style staple, and they look great with everything from work pants to jeans. The leathers are upper while the outsoles are synthetic.
7. Camper White MIRUM Boots
Everything Camper does is slightly out of the ordinary, and these statement-making ankle boots are actually one of the brand’s most toned-down styles. The lace-up boots have a tonal lug sole made from EVA, and the shoes come in a range of eye-catching colors and muted styles.
8. Hunter Original Chelsea
BEST FOR RAIN
Hunter is well known for their Wellington boots, a staple of British music festivals and movies about the royal family. In addition to Wellies, Hunter also makes a more city-friendly style, like this sleek Chelsea boot. It’s made from rubber and has a lug sole, and it’s designed for tackling wet weather in the city.
9. Grenson Fred Lug Brogue Boot
Grenson is one of the oldest British shoemakers, and while other brands of Grenson’s pedigree have stuck to tradition, Grenson has gone in the other direction. The brand has been taking classic shoe silhouettes and making them just weird enough to stand out. Take these Fred boots, which have an otherwise normal brogue upper stacked on top of a comically thick lug sole. They’re not for everyone, but if you’re the type to make a statement, these are the lug sole boots to get.
10. Prada Monolith Lug Sole Combat Boot
Are the other lug sole boots on this list just not luggy enough? Prada’s Monolith combat boots have a supersized lug sole and a squared-off toe that stands out from everything else in the pack.
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